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Thomas Stewart "Tom" Baker (born 20 January 1934) is an Englishmarker actor. He is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor in the science fiction television series Doctor Who, a role he played from 1974 to 1981, and for being the narrator of the comedy series Little Britain. He now lives in Rye, East Sussex, United Kingdom.

Early life

Baker was born in Scotland Roadmarker, Liverpoolmarker, the son of Mary Jane (née Fleming), a cleaner, and John Stewart Baker, a sailor who was rarely at home. Baker was raised in a working class Catholic and Jewish family. He left school at 15 to become a novice monk and remained in the monastic life for six years, but left after losing his faith, and did his National Service in the Royal Army Medical Corps, serving for two years from 1955 until 1957. At the same time he took up acting, at first as a hobby.

Career

In 1971, Baker got his first big break with the role of Rasputin in the film Nicholas and Alexandra. He also appeared nude in Pier Paolo Pasolini's version of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (I Racconti di Canterbury), released in 1972, as a younger husband of the Wife of Bath.

Doctor Who (1974–1981)

In 1974, Baker took on the role of the Doctor from Jon Pertwee. He was recommended to producer Barry Letts by the BBC's Head of Serials, Bill Slater, who had directed Baker in Play of the Month. Impressed by Baker on meeting him, Letts was convinced he was right for the part after seeing his performance in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad. Baker was working on a construction site at the time, as acting jobs were scarce. Initially he was dubbed "Boiler Suit Tom" by the media, as he had been supplied for a press conference with some old studio set clothes to replace his modest garments.

He quickly made the part his own. As the Doctor, his eccentric style of dress and speech — particularly his trademark long scarf and fondness for jelly babies — made him an immediately recognisable figure, and he quickly caught the viewing public's imagination. Baker played the Doctor for seven consecutive seasons over a seven-year period, making him the longest-serving actor in the part on-screen. Baker himself suggested many aspects of the Fourth Doctor's personality. The distinctive scarf came about by accident: James Acheson, the costume designer, had provided far more wool than was necessary to the knitter, Begonia Pope, and Ms. Pope knitted all the wool she was given; it was Baker who suggested that he wear the resulting — ridiculously overlong — scarf.

The incarnation played by Baker is often regarded as the most popular of the Doctors. In polls conducted by Doctor Who Magazine, Baker has lost the "Best Doctor" category only twice: once to Sylvester McCoy in 1990, and once to David Tennant in 2006.

Tom Baker is not known to be directly related to Colin Baker, who played the Sixth Doctor in Doctor Who, nor to Bob Baker, the script-writer for many of the series' episodes.
Baker's sense of humour is like that of the character he played. When asked how he felt about having a star named after him, Baker quipped, "I'm over the moon!" In a poll published by BBC Homes and Antiques magazine in January 2006, Baker was voted the fourth most eccentric star. He was beaten by Björk, Chris Eubank and David Icke.

He continues to be associated with the Doctor, appearing on documentaries such as The Story of Doctor Who and Doctor Who Confidential and giving interviews about his time on the programme. He reappeared as the Doctor for the 1993 charity special Dimensions in Time and audio for the PC game Destiny of the Doctors. He gets interviewed often in documentaries on the extras of Doctor Who DVD releases from his era as the Doctor and has recorded DVD commentaries for many of the stories.

In a 2004 interview regarding the series' revival, Baker suggested that he be cast as the Master. In a 2006 interview with The Sun newspaper, he claims that he has not watched any episodes of the new series because he "just can't be bothered". In June 2006, Baker once again expressed interest in the role in a guest column for Radio Times, noting that he "did watch a little bit of the new Doctor Who and I think the new fella, Tennant, is excellent."

While Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann have all reprised their roles for audio adventures produced since the 1990s by Big Finish (and sometimes the BBC) Baker had until 2009 declined to voice the Doctor, saying he hadn't seen a script he liked. However, in July 2009, the BBC announced that Baker would return to the role for a series of five audio dramas, co-starring Richard Franklin as Captain Mike Yates, which would begin release in September. The five audios comprise a single linked story under the banner title Hornets' Nest, written by well-known author Paul Magrs. Baker has also filmed inserts for a video release of the unfinished Shada and also provided narration for several BBC audio releases of old Doctor Who stories.

More recently, Baker has been involved in the reading of old Target novelisations in the BBC Audio range of talking books, "Doctor Who (Classic Novels)". Doctor Who and the Giant Robot was the first release in the range read by Baker, released on 5 November 2007, followed by Baker reading Doctor Who and the Brain of Morbius'(released 4 February 2008), Doctor Who and the Creature from the Pit (released on 7 April 2008) and Doctor Who and the Pyramids of Mars (released 14 August 2008).

In October 2009, Baker was interviewed for BBC Radio 4’s Last Word to pay tribute to the deceased former Doctor Who producer Barry Letts. He described Letts, who originally cast him in the role, as “the big link in changing my entire life”.

Little Britain

In 2001 Baker was cast as the narrator of Little Britain on BBC Radio 4, and remained in the role when it transferred to television. Baker has suggested that he was chosen for the part in Little Britain due to his popularity with Walliams and Lucas, part of the generation to whom he is the favourite Doctor. "I am now being employed by the children who grew up watching me" he said in a recent DVD commentary. His eccentric voice-overs include such comments as "The Conservative Party is my favourite political party, after Labour and the Lib Dems", and "If people in Britain want to buy a pet, they go to a pet shop. If they want to buy a pet shop, they go to a pet shop shop. If they want to buy a pet shop shop, then they're just being silly." During the end credits sequence of one programme, Baker suggested that Queen Elizabeth should "pop one out" during her next address of Parliament. On the Little Britain Abroad special he remarked " In Paris, Anne is paying a visit to the Louvre. At my age I'm up all night visiting the Louvre". Another trademark of Little Britain's narration is the deadpan quotation of old rap lyrics, usually in the opening credit sequence. Songs like Salt n Pepa's "Push It" and House of Pain's "Jump Around" have so far received the Tom Baker treatment.

On 17 November 2005, to mark the start of Series 3 of Little Britain, Baker read the continuity announcements on BBC One from 1900 to 2130 GMT. The scripts were written by the same writers as Little Britain (David Walliams and Matt Lucas) and Baker assumed his Little Britain persona. He used lines such as "Hello, tellyviewers. You're watching the BBC One!" and "In half an hour, Jenny Dickens's classic serial Bleak House. But first let's see what the poor people are up to in the first of two visits this evening to the EastEnders."

Film

Baker also appeared in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra as Grigori Rasputin. He was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for his performance, one for Best Actor in a Supporting Role and another for Best Newcomer.

Baker appeared as Moore, an artist whose paintings are imbued with voodoo power, in The Vault of Horror (1973), the sequel to Tales from the Crypt (1972); as Koura, the villainous sorcerer, in Ray Harryhausen's The Golden Voyage of Sinbad (1973); and as Halvarth, the Elven healer, in Dungeons & Dragons (2000). In the late 1990s, it was reported that Baker was a candidate for the role of Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings films. Baker has since stated that he was only approached for "a role" in the film, and when told that it would mean spending months away in New Zealand, he turned down the offer.

Voice acting

Baker has appeared in various radio productions, including a role as "Britain's most celebrated criminal barrister", Sir Edward Marshall-Hall in John Mortimer Presents the Trials of Marshall Hall (1996), and a part in the 2001 BBC Radio 4 version of The Thirty-nine Steps as Sir Walter Bullivant. He guest starred in The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes (a pastiche series written by Bert Coules) in the 2002 episode "The Saviour of Cripplegate Square".

From 2000 to 2005 Tom voiced the character Max Bear in the Channel 4 (UK) Max Bear Productions animated series. More recently, he voiced the role of the villain ZeeBad in the 2005 computer-animated film version of The Magic Roundabout.

He is also the narrator of the new children's computer animation series The Beeps which is shown on Five's Milkshake!

He is also the voice artist in the "Fords of Winsford" advert.

In the BBC audio play of John Le Carré's The Russia House, he played the main character, Barley Blair.

He also narrated the popular children's acclaimed TV series Tales of Aesop on BBC which is a series based on Aesop's Fables with beautiful puppet animation.

Video games

Baker also returned to star as the Fourth Doctor in the video game Destiny of the Doctors in 1997. His voice has also featured in Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior (2003), Cold Winter (2005) and Little Britain: The Video Game (2007).

Narration

Baker is a prolific and highly recognisable voiceover artist. In a 2005 survey of British adults, Baker's voice was found to be the fourth most recognisable after the Queen, Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher.

In 1992 and 1993 Baker narrated BBC radio comedy series Lionel Nimrod's Inexplicable World. In 1994 Tom Baker provided the narration for Channel 4's Equinox rave documentary Rave New World. In 2002 he had a speaking role in the critically-acclaimed but commercial flop Hostile Waters as the Narrator.

Baker has worked on a number of video games, including Kult: Heretic Kingdoms (also known as Heretic Kingdoms: The Inquisition), Hostile Waters (2001), Cold Winter (2005), Medievil: Resurrection (2005), Warhammer 40,000: Fire Warrior (2003), Perfect Dark (2000) and Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (2000). He also voiced both the narrator and god Tetsu in the role-playing game Sudeki, but was uncredited.

During the first three months of 2006, his voice was used by BT for spoken delivery of text messages to landline phones. He recorded 11,593 phrases, containing every sound in the English language, for use by the text-to-speech service. A number of messages sent using this service can be heard at "The Doctor Says". The BT text message service returned from 1 December 2006 to 8 January 2007, with 2p from each text going to the charity Shelter. In addition, a single 'sung' by Tom Baker's text voice - "You Really Got Me", originally by The Kinks - was released on 18 December 2006 with BT's proceeds going to the charity. The creator of the song was Mark Murphy, designer of the site "Tom Baker Says ..."

Baker has recorded voiceovers for Virgin Radio.

His voice may be heard at London's Natural History Museum narrating commentary to some of the exhibits that support Darwin's theory of Natural Selection.

Baker has made three other brief forays into the world of music: he provides the monologue to the track "Witness to a Murder (Part Two)" on the album Six by Mansun; he appears on Technocat's single "Only Human" in 1995, and in 2002 he recorded the monologue to the track "Megamorphosis" on the album andabrek by UK artiste Stephen James, although the album was not released until 2009;He even provides narrative at two British tourist attractions: the Nemesis roller coastermarker at Alton Towersmarker, Staffordshire; and the London Dungeonmarker, a museum depicting gory and macabre events in the capital, narrating the events leading up to and comprising The Great Fire of Londonmarker.

Tom Baker voiced the character "Max Bear", a series of animated stories broadcast on Channel 4 (UK Terrestrial) from 2000 to 2005.

He narrated Australian cartoonist Bruce Petty's 2006 movie about world politics, Global Haywire.

Television

He also appeared as a guest on the quiz show Have I Got News For You and was subsequently described by presenter Angus Deayton as the funniest guest in the show's history. According to the Daily Mirror, Baker's appearance made him a cult figure once again and helped revive his career.Baker played the role of the Captain in the Challenge version of Fort Boyard, and has also hosted the children's literature show The Book Tower.

Writings

Baker's autobiography, Who on Earth is Tom Baker? (ISBN 0-00-638854-X), was published in 1997. He has also written a short fairytale-style novel titled The Boy Who Kicked Pigs (ISBN 0-571-19771-X), which is subtitled "A Grotesque Masterpiece".

Personal life

Baker's first marriage in 1961 was to Anna Wheatcroft (niece of the rose grower Harry Wheatcroft). They had two sons Daniel and Piers, but divorced in 1966 and Baker lost contact with his sons until a chance meeting with Piers in a pub in New Zealandmarker allowing them to renew their relationship. In December 1980 he married Lalla Ward who had co-starred in Doctor Who (playing his companion Romana) with him for two years. However, the marriage lasted only 16 months.

In 1986, Baker married for a third time, this time to Sue Jerrard, who had been an assistant editor on Doctor Who. They moved to an old manse in Boughton Malherbemarker near Maidstonemarker, Kentmarker where they kept several cats, before emigrating to Francemarker in 2002. During this time he was a regular in the Red Lion in Lenhammarker village where his distinctive voice could be heard above all other voices. They sold the property to Vic Reeves, shortly after Baker had worked with him on Randall & Hopkirk . In November 2006, Baker returned to live in the UK, buying a house in Tunbridge Wellsmarker. He now lives near Rye in East Sussexmarker.

In the e-mail newsletter preceding his BBC Radio 4 programme of 21st October 2009, Laurence "Laurie" Taylorrecounted the following story of Baker: "he told me of the extreme embarrassment he'd suffered recently when a middle-aged woman had come up to him in Dean Street and greeted him like an old friend. 'Tom, how good to see you.' But she'd quickly spotted that her pleasure was not quite reciprocated. 'You don't remember me, do you?' she said. 'Of course, I do', said Tom. 'We were together in that Oscar Wilde production at Chichester.' 'No', said the woman. 'I was never at Chichester.' 'Silly of me', said Tom. 'We were at the National weren't we? All those years ago - with Peter Hall.' 'No', said the woman. 'I was never at the National.'Tom told me that this was the moment when he knew there was no alternative but to raise both hands in the air and admit that he simply couldn't remember the occasion when they'd last met. He looked his acquaintance in the face and owned up. 'I'm sorry', he said, 'How do I know you?'She fixed him with a steady glare, 'Tom', she said 'We used to be married.' "

Several reference books published in the late 1980s erroneously reported that Baker died of a drug overdose in 1982. The confusion arose from the death of an Americanmarker actor who was also called Tom Baker. The American Tom Baker did indeed die of a drug overdose that year. Baker does have a reputation, acknowledged in his autobiography, of being a heavy drinker, and sometimes makes humorous references to it. For example, in response to the numerous inquiries he gets about his time as the Doctor he often replies, "You will have to excuse me but I was drunk at the time."

Despite, or because of, his religious upbringing, Baker has sceptical views on the subject and describes himself as irreligious, or occasionally as Buddhist, but not anti-religious. "People are quite happy believing the wrong things. I wasn't unhappy believing all that rubbish. Now I'm not unhappy thinking about it because I can laugh at it."

Politically, Baker expresses disdain for both the Conservatives and the Labour Party saying, in 1997, "When the Conservatives were in I cannot tell you how much I hated them. But I realise how shallow I am because I now hate the Labour Party as much."

Works

Filmography

Television



Audiography

  • 1994 - John Le Carre's The Russia House - Barley Blair (lead role) -

Bibliography



In popular culture

  • British synthpop band The Human League recorded a tribute track to the actor entitled "Tom Baker". In 1981 it was released as the B-side to their "Boys and Girls" single. The instrumental track was re-released on some CD versions of their Travelogue album.




  • His distinctive voice has become a gift for impressionists such as Jon Culshaw and John Guilor. Culshaw regularly impersonates Baker in the comedy series Dead Ringers: in one episode, he makes a prank call to Baker in character as the Doctor, which prompts the memorable reaction from the real Baker: "No, no, there must be a mistake, I'm the Doctor." Similarly, when Culshaw called another Doctor, Sylvester McCoy, in character, he got the response: "Tom? Is that you? Have you been down the pub?"


  • A tireless advocate of internet culture, Baker is known to field fans' questions on the DALnet Internet Relay Chat channel




  • Female fans are known as "The Sisterhood"


  • Member of the WIN organisation.


  • Used multiple times as an alias for Nate Ford in Leverage


References

  1. http://www.eclectica.org/v2n2/skea_who_tom_baker.html
  2. http://newhumanist.org.uk/865
  3. http://uktv.co.uk/watch/stepbystep/aid/590207
  4. Voice-over commentaries on the BBC DVD "Robot" (1974,2007)
  5. BT Bring in the voice of Baker
  6. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0887478/
  7. http://www.thedoctorsays.co.uk/
  8. http://tombakersays.com/
  9. http://www.andabrek.com
  10. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0374421/ Internet Movie Database page on Max Bear
  11. Helen Weathers, "Who's got views for you", Daily Mirror, December 30, 1998
  12. The Official Tom Baker Website; biography[1]
  13. Transcript of Tom Baker interviewed by Mark Gatiss at the British Film Institute, 29 September 2001
  14. Mark Smith, "From Gallifrey to Glenbogle", The Herald, September 17, 2004
  15. screenonline: Late Night Story, 17 January 2008
  16. UPC: 9780563394730
  17. irc://irc.dal.net/digi

External links




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